Content tagged “Tourism and leisure”

Keep on trucking?

By 2012, food trucks were arguably the hottest culinary trend in Baton Rouge, with a robust fleet of about 16 serving portable street food.

Brian Medlin

POSITION Owner/Chef
COMPANY All Star Catering
WHAT THEY DO Strive to provide great food and service building long-term relationships
ADDRESS allstarcateringllc.com
NEXT STEP Plan a complete rebuild of the South Foster Drive facility

BR hotel included in $1.1B portfolio sale, to be fully renovated

The Homewood Suites by Hilton in Baton Rouge is one of 52 hotels included in a $1.1 billion portfolio sale that Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. has entered into with a joint venture by affiliates of Northstar Realty Finance Corp. and Chatham Lodging Trust.
A spokesperson for the joint venture buyer confirms the Baton Rouge hotel is included in the deal, adding that full renovation of the hotel will take place sometime in 2015. The Homewood Suites, at 5860 Corporate Blvd., includes 115 rooms. No other changes to the hotel are planned at this point, the spokesperson for Northstar and Chatham says.
The $1.1 billion deal for the 52 hotels is expected to close sometime this quarter, pending customary approvals and closing conditions. Once it does, the Homewood Suites will be managed by Island Hospitality Management, which is based in Palm Beach, Florida—also the headquarters of Chatham. Northstar is headquartered in New York City. —Steve Sanoski

'225 Dine': All Star Catering to take over Frankie's Dawg House

Fans of Frankie's Dawg House will be happy to hear the local restaurant is reopening next Saturday, Nov. 1, under new owners Brian Medlin and Stuart Ourso, 225 Dine reports.
Medlin is the owner of Smokin Aces BBQ and All Star Catering. Ourso is the owner of a local hot dog and sno-ball cart and Southern Dawgz catering service. Medlin says he was involved with Frankie's for about six months, doing some consulting work in 2012. He approached former owner Stephen Hightower a couple months ago to see if Hightower was interested in selling Frankie's. Medlin says a deal was brokered in early October, and he's interested in expanding on the concept, growing Frankie's with more locations and a fleet of carts in the future.

Walk-On's launches franchising program

Baton Rouge-based Walk-On's Enterprises has officially launched a franchising program for Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar and says it is seeking qualified franchisees in markets across the southeastern U.S.
"The next logical step in the evolution of Walk-On's is franchising, and now that we have the people, processes and policies in place, we're ready to roll," says Brandon Landry, co-founder of Walk-On's Enterprises, in a prepared statement. "Walk-On's has become an institution in Louisiana, and there's every reason to believe its success here will translate to neighboring states. Especially in college towns, where we have developed a distinctive niche and a lot of brand equity."

'225 Dine': Nottoway Plantation gets new chef

A chef with a distinguished career is joining Nottoway Plantation. As 225 Dine reports, Michael J. Loupe, an award-winning chef who has logged time across Louisiana and in France, will start working as executive chef at Nottoway next week. At the historic plantation and resort, Loupe will head The Mansion Restaurant, which specializes in Creole-inspired Louisiana cuisine and seasonal menus. Loupe trained in Paris and most recently worked as executive chef at the Hilton Capitol Center for the past six years. Loupe has also headed the kitchen at the local Ruth's Chris Steak House, where he was in charge of the culinary team for two years. He was the executive chef at the Baton Rouge Country Club for more than three years, and has also worked at the Camelot Club. Loupe's extensive culinary career started at age 15 when he got a part-time job making nut butters and vegetable juices at the Yum Yum Tree in Plaquemine. After attending culinary school in the early '80s, Loupe worked...

Bayou Country Superfest to include third day again in 2015

When the Bayou Country Superfest returns to Tiger Stadium for its sixth year over Memorial Day weekend next year, it will be a three-day festival for the second straight year. When Festival Productions Inc. confirmed the festival would return in 2015 earlier this year, it initially only indicated a two-day festival. Today, organizers confirmed the 2015 engagement will include a full lineup of artists on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 22-24. The first four festivals were all two-day affairs. The full lineup of artists for the 2015 festival is due to be released on Nov. 5. During this year's first three-day festival, area hotels took in a record $3.4 million, according to figures from Smith Travel Research. The extra day also boosted overall festival attendance to a record 135,000 fans. Last week,

Talking Points: Will French

There were a few public disagreements at the Entertainment Industry Development Advisory Commission's most recent meeting in September, mostly about Louisiana Economic Development's allegedly poor management of the movie tax credit program and the fact that Baton Rouge is not a film "production center" under the current union contract, which locals say puts the city at a cost disadvantage against places like New Orleans that have the designation.

Developers unveil plans for eight-story downtown hotel

Developers and downtown officials today unveiled plans and a rendering for an 80,000-square-foot Courtyard Marriott that will be developed on the surface parking lot at the corner of Florida and Third streets downtown. The new hotel—which will be the sixth in downtown Baton Rouge—will have 147 rooms and eight floors. Construction is scheduled to begin in April or May and is expected to take 24 months to complete. "This is a great corner that is in the heart of downtown," says South Carolina developer Bo Aughtry, whose Windsor Aughtry Co. also developed the downtown Hampton Inn on Lafayette St. "We've been eyeing this corner for a long time." Aughtry, who puts the total cost of the project at $20 million, had actually wanted to build the Hampton Inn on the Florida Street lot, but at that time its owners, Gordon LeBlanc and Tom Adamek, had hopes of developing the...

Plans for downtown Courtyard Marriott to be unveiled this morning

Plans for a new downtown Courtyard Marriott hotel are expected to be announced this morning at the corner of Florida and Third streets, where the newly constructed hotel will be located. The Downtown Development District, hotel developer Windsor Aughtry, and hotel management company Hospitality America have jointly scheduled the "historic development announcement" for 11 a.m. Though the DDD and Aughtry decline to comment, Marriott officials have confirmed plans for the new eight-story, 147-room hotel, and Hospitality America includes the hotel on its website, with a scheduled opening date of 2016. The project will be the sixth hotel downtown—developer Mike Wampold is planning a seventh hotel but does not yet have a franchise deal—and is significant because it will give downtown more than 1,000 hotel rooms, which has long been the elusive number hospitality experts say...

Entrepreneur: Lina & James Jacobs

Longtime sales professionals Lina and James Jacobs knew from extensive travel they had a unique business model. "No one else had the concept of doing the café/espresso bar format," Lina tells Business Report for the magazine's new Entrepreneur feature on the Jacobses. They planned to serve coffee "rooted in the foundation of Italian espresso" as well as local, organic and seasonal foods to give diners healthy lunch options. The couple did their homework; they studied the numbers. After attending barista school, they evaluated coffee roasters. And they lucked into leasing the very spot they wanted in which to locate Magpie Café. Since opening in May 2012, it has become a hotspot in the Perkins Road overpass area. Growth has been steady; this year revenue is up 25% over 2013, James says. How to account for it? "One thing we've learned as a small business: always being open to new ideas, always being ready to change and evolve," says Lina.

The rundown

NOW OPEN:
• Red Stick Spice Co., satellite location in the Main Street Market at Fifth and Main streets downtown.
• Fresh Kitchen, offering healthy meals to go, 7474 Corporate Blvd.
• Brickyard South, a bar in the former Mud and Water, 174 South Blvd.
ON THE HORIZON:
• Jolie Pearl oyster bar, 311 and 315 North Blvd.
• Pat's Cajun Seafood and Steak, 8200 Jefferson Highway.
CLOSED:
Portico's Coursey Boulevard location, but the owners renovated and expanded the Southdowns location, 4205 Perkins Road.
FOOD TRUCK UPDATES:
• Curbside Burgers plans a return to the streets this month, in addition to a space inside the upcoming Barcadia at 3347 Highland Road (the old Serranos restaurant).
• Pronto, owned by Kathy Mangham of Gourmet Girls, recently set up its food service in front of her shop at 3025 Perkins Road.
TRY THIS:

Port Allen restaurant nets national attention with discount for gun-toting diners

It hasn't taken long for a local story about a Cajun eatery offering a discount for diners who bring a gun into the restaurant to go national. Picking up on an original report by local NBC affiliate WVLA-TV late last week, Time magazine and The Huffington Post are the latest national news outlets highlighting the 10% discount being offered to gun-toting diners at Bergeron's Restaurant in Port Allen. Restaurant owner Kevin Cox tells The Huffington Post that the deal was first offered a few weeks ago to encourage law enforcement officers to visit the restaurant but has since been broadened to welcome all gun carriers. "It makes us all feel better when state...

Highland Coffees to close after 25 years, be replaced by full-service restaurant

Highland Coffees, a beloved local institution that has operated for 25 years on Chimes Street just outside the North Gates of the LSU campus, will close its doors for good at the end of December. Owner Clarke Cadzow says he does not want to shutter the business he founded and has operated since 1989 but has no choice, as his lease was not renewed by property owner Hank Saurage. "We are very disappointed that our lease will not be renewed," Cadzow says. "We love our customers and have a deep connection with this neighborhood." Saurage bought the building that houses the 3,000-square-foot coffee shop in 2011, and put the property out to market earlier this year to see what kind of response it might generate. Within a week Saurage says he had received three "significant offers." "We like Clarke but it's time to do something different," Saurage says. "We've got something lined up that we think will be perfect." He declines to elaborate, except to say it will be a full-service restaurant...

Ideal Market owners also planning Latino bar and grill at Sherwood South Shopping Center

The owners of Ideal Market have plans for a bar and grill to accompany the Latino grocery store under development in the Sherwood South Shopping Center at the corner of Old Hammond Highway and S. Sherwood Forest Boulevard. Ideal Market, a Latino grocery store chain with several locations in the New Orleans area, has nearly finished its remodel of space at 1817 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. and plans to open in the next month or two. The same company has submitted a plan review application to the city-parish Department of Public Works to remodel a location at 1801 S. Sherwood Forest Blvd. into 3 Jefe's Bar and Grill. The remodel of the 1,800-square-foot space is projected to cost $216,000, according to the application. Representatives from Ideal Market declined to comment further on the project. —Kelly Connelly
Editor's note: This story has been changed since original publication to clarify the locations of the new businesses.

Candlewood Suites planning $5M hotel on Bankers Avenue

The hotel chain Candlewood Suites has plans to join the string of hotels in the College Drive corridor, according to a plan review application recently filed with the city-parish Department of Public Works. The hotel is to be constructed at 5353 Bankers Ave., on the nearly 2-acre tract of land behind the Raising Cane's at 5211 Corporate Blvd. that sold in early July for $785,000. Scott-based Mihir Enterprises owns the land and submitted the application. The building is projected to cost $5 million and cover 43,912 square feet, but the application does not include details on the total number of rooms or hotel amenities. Candlewood Suites is a branch of InterContinental Hotels Group, the parent company of both the Holiday Inn and the Crowne Plaza on Constitution Avenue. Calls made to IHG's real estate department for additional details were not returned as of this morning's deadline.

'225 Dine': Triumph Kitchen students take over Taco de Paco

Chef Chris Wadsworth and his students from Triumph Kitchen have taken over the day-to-day operations of local food truck Taco de Paco. As 225 Dine reports, Wadsworth and the group started working in the truck at the most recent weekly Food Truck Wround-Up. Wadsworth says he and the students will be redesigning the menu and rebranding the truck in the future in an effort to revamp Baton Rouge's food truck scene. "The food trucks here have kind of come and gone, and I see them trying to make their way back into the scene," he says. "A lot of the chef-driven trucks went away, but we have trucks like Cupcake Allie and the return of Nick [Hufft's] Curbside. I think it will definitely turn around." From the...

Mid City butcher shop to open in mid-November

Steven Diehl of Good Diehl, a personal chef service, is bringing a new butcher shop and quick service restaurant to Mid City in mid-November. Called Twine: Modern Meat Market, the shop will offer cuts of meat along with prepared dinners and side dishes, made with locally sourced products. "I am excited to open a market that will benefit local farmers and bring great products to the shelves for purchase all week long," Diehl says in a press release issued this morning. Diehl says he hopes to connect shoppers with the sources of their food and build a relationship as their butcher. Twine will also be open six days a week for lunch, focusing on a carryout service. Twine will occupy the former Unique Catering building at 615 South Acadian Thruway, a block south of the thruway intersection with Government Street. "We love Mid City, and there's not a shop in the area that offers anything similar. We feel like the area would appreciate what we have to offer," Diehl says. The shop will draw...

'225 Dine': Ryan Andre to be executive chef of City Pork's second BR location

Ryan Andre, a local chef who previously worked at Le Creolé, has been named the executive chef for City Pork's second Baton Rouge location, 225 Dine reports. The restaurant is slated to open sometime this fall at 7327 Jefferson Highway, in the former location of Dempsey's. Andre has teamed up with the City Pork brand and says he's excited to bring his flavors to the restaurant. Already, he's started collaborating with City Pork Deli & Charcuterie executive chef Troy Deano on a menu for the new location. "We complement each other well," Andre says. "We're going to bring Louisiana flair to every dish. We'll be incorporating German, Asian influences and more, but keeping it local, using fresh, Louisiana ingredients." The new location will not include a butcher shop, as the original does, but will instead focus on the dine-in experience. Andre and Deano say the feel will be approachable and casual, but they want to impress local diners with the food. Construction on the interior...

Permits filed for Crispy Catch seafood restaurant planned on Perkins

The owners of the former Kean's Fine Dry Cleaning building near the Perkins Road overpass have submitted plans with the city-parish Department of Public Works to redevelop the property into a new seafood restaurant called Crispy Catch. According to plans submitted to DPW's office of permits, the restaurant at 3901 Perkins Road will measure 2,393 square feet and will include the former Kean's space, as well as 805 square feet from an adjacent storefront that is part of the building and 700 square feet of canopy space. The application was submitted in late July by Tyler Pizzolato, whose parents, Tracie and Cliff Pizzolato, acquired the building in May for $564,219 from Frank Kean. Cliff Pizzolato is estranged from his siblings, who own and operate Tony's Seafood in north Baton Rouge and also Louisiana Fish Fry Products. The two factions of the family are embroiled in a heated legal...

Planning Commission to consider alcohol sales at Mall of Louisiana restaurant

The city-parish Planning Commission will meet this evening to consider rezoning and approval for several projects, including a request by the Red Robin under construction at the Mall of Louisiana for rezoning into a classification that would allow alcohol sales. The Colorado-based burger chain, which offers gourmet burgers and beer shakes, is expected to open before the middle of next month. Also this evening, the commission will take up a request from another restaurant, French Market Bistro, to serve alcohol in a shopping center near the Perkins and Highland roads intersection. Other items on the Planning Commission's agenda include approval of a proposed subdivision called Audubon Parc near Tiger Bend Road at Chippendale Drive that includes 47 lots for single-family homes;...

Schlotzsky's returning to BR with Essen sandwich shop

Schlotzsky's Deli plans to return to Baton Rouge with a restaurant in the small strip center at 5565 Essen Lane, across from Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. The restaurant will occupy the two spaces formerly occupied by PJ's Coffee and Verizon Wireless. Property owner M.J. Wolfe, a New Orleans-area businessman, says he has signed a letter of intent with a franchisee group of the Austin, Texas-based chain and that the deli should be open by early 2015. Two prior Schlotzsky's locations—one on Jefferson Highway and another on South Sherwood Forest Boulevard—have closed over the past two years. But Wolfe is optimistic his new tenant will do well at the Essen Lane location because it is an experienced franchisee group with multiple successful Schlotzsky's restaurants in the south. Though the strip center is along one of the busiest thoroughfares in Baton Rouge, it has experienced high turnover. PJ's, which opened in 2009 after Starbucks closed, shut its doors...

Secrest rebranding three Fit-Blendz locations, adding downtown restaurant

Doug Secrest is rebranding his three Fit-Blendz restaurants in south Louisiana and is planning to open a fourth restaurant in downtown Baton Rouge. The restaurants' new name is Spotter's, and Secrest says the signage at the Denham Springs, Addis and Hammond locations are all currently in the process of being changed. A new menu will be introduced in the coming weeks, says Seacrest, who was recently featured in Business Report. As for his plans in Baton Rouge for Spotter's, Secrest says he anticipates finalizing a lease by the end of this week for approximately 1,000 square feet space at 521 Third St., Suite B. "There's a real need in the market for alternatives to fast food," Secrest says. "We're all about giving people an option for meals that are served quick and also have high nutrition value. But, ultimately, we don't just want to give our customers a quick, nutritious...

Walk-On's temporarily benching downtown 'Halfcourt' concept, expanding Happy's

Instead of establishing a new scaled-down version of Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar in the Lee Overton Building on Third Street downtown, officials with Baton Rouge-based Walk-On's Enterprises say they'll use the roughly 2,500-square-foot space to expand the neighboring Happy's Irish Pub that they also own. The company will now look for a larger space downtown for its new Walk-On's Halfcourt concept, says President and CEO Scott Taylor. Walk-On's announced in June its plans to open the new concept in the Overton Building, which it has leased for several years and is currently vacant. However, after discovering the space would only accommodate about 60 guests, Walk-On's co-founder and co-owner Brandon Landry says the game plan changed. "We still believe Walk-On's Halfcourt is a perfect fit for downtown, bringing a much-needed sports bar along with all the great eats and sights Walk-On's is...

'225 Dine': Curbside Burgers food truck rolling back into BR in October

Nick Hufft is planning to bring his popular food truck, Curbside Burgers, back to Baton Rouge, 225 Dine reports. Earlier this year, Hufft announced his plans to sling burgers inside the new Barcadia, which is slated to open this fall in the former Serranos on Highland Road near LSU. Hufft says he's in the final stages of getting the engine of his original truck repaired and is hoping it will be up and running by the beginning of October. The New Orleans native came to Baton Rouge to attend LSU in 2003 and started Curbside Burgers in 2010. After finding success in the Capital City, Hufft partnered with Barcadia in New Orleans and moved back home in 2013. "I didn't want to close [the Baton Rouge food truck] down, but it was becoming difficult trying to balance two locations in two cities," he says. "The support here is overwhelming and I'm excited to get back...

'225 Dine': Portico owners close Coursey location to focus on Southdowns restaurant

Portico has closed one of its two locations in the Capital City. 225 Dine reports the restaurant's Coursey Boulevard location, which opened in June 2012, closed last Sunday. Co-owner Stephen Walker says the decision was made to consolidate efforts on the Southdowns location at 4205 Perkins Road, which opened in January. "It was becoming an issue of consistency between the two locations," Walker says. "We wanted to focus on making the best Portico brand we could, and we felt like the Southdowns location had more potential in the future." The Perkins Road restaurant has been renovated, with a new patio with room for 40 patrons. The interior is now one "big wide-open space," Walker says, with booths and tables and the dining room flowing into the bar area. Executive chef Josh Hebert was also brought in, focusing on a menu that was revamped with the help of local food writer and occasional 225 contributor Jay Ducote. "We narrowed the scope of the menu," Walker says,...

High-rise Marriott hits the auction block with a $7M starting bid

The iconic high-rise Marriott Hotel off Interstate 10 near the College Drive exit is up for auction, with a starting bid price of $7 million. That's considerably less than the $32 million lenders were owed when they bought back the property for $2,200 in court costs nearly one year ago. It's also much less than the $28 million local real estate experts estimated, at the time, the asking price could be. But the 43-year-old hotel needs considerable updating, and the $7 million starting bid suggests it may well find a buyer who will be able to invest heavily in renovating the 21-story, 299-room hotel. The property is listed on auction.com, which describes the hotel as the "most visible lodging establishment in the region," with 20,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space and a...

Sullivan's plans renovation adjacent to ongoing work at Esplanade Mall

Sullivan's Steakhouse, which operates in Esplanade Mall at the corner of College Drive and Corporate Boulevard, has submitted an application to the East Baton Rouge Department of Public Works to remodel the restaurant. A manager at Sullivan's declined to discuss details of the renovation, but it appears to be significant. According to the application, the renovations are projected to cost $500,000 and will cover more than 7,800 square feet of the roughly 11,170 total square feet the restaurant encompasses. The restaurant is adjacent to a long-vacant former department store in Esplanade Mall that recently began undergoing a partial demolition and renovation. Other tenants in the shopping center include Hooter's, Lock and Key Whiskey Bar and the Melting Pot.

BR hotel tax revenue jumps in May, June

May and June were hot months for Baton Rouge-area hotels. Revenue generated by the local hotel occupancy tax jumped by more than 35% in May and rose by 12% in June, compared to figures from the same months last year, says Visit Baton Rouge. The local occupancy tax, which is 4%, is the sole source of funding for Visit Baton Rouge, which receives 3 of the 4 cents collected on every dollar spent at area hotels and motels. Visit Baton Rouge President and CEO Paul Arrigo says the May and June figures reflect the beginning of several major events and film productions this summer that helped boost the local travel industry. "Bayou Country Superfest in May was one of our best ever. That event, along with the Miss USA Pageant and the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III championships combined to make the summer travel season one of the city's best in many years," Arrigo says in a prepared statement. "Since Visit Baton Rouge is completely funded by the hotel tax, our work in promoting the city as a...

Stabiler buys more property near restaurant under development on Jefferson

Wayne Stabiler, the owner of restaurants such as Little Village, Le Creolé and Stab's Steak and Seafood, closed deals Tuesday on two properties worth $1.25 million that are adjacent to the site of a new restaurant under development. The restaurant is planned to open in the former Bank One building at 7666 Jefferson Hwy. The new properties are in the Bocage neighborhood at 7655 Rienzi Blvd. and 2620 McCarroll Dr. Stabiler says he doesn't yet know if those properties will be used in connection to the future restaurant. "We have no plans for it yet, but we'll get that together in the next 30 days," Stabiler says. As for the restaurant, Stabiler says he's not sure when it will open either. "Once the permitting is finished everything will move fast," Stabiler says. "We're set up to get everything moving as soon as permitting is finished." Stabiler bought the bank property in March for...

Restaurant IPO purchases downtown building for $2.2M

A little over two years after opening on Third Street, Restaurant IPO has acquired the downtown building from which it operates. Acting under IPO Baton Rouge Properties LLC, the locally owned restaurant purchased the building at 421 Third St. for $2.2 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Eric Macicek, co-owner of the restaurant, says there are no immediate plans to make any changes to the space. Macicek says Restaurant and Breakroom IPO—the bar located above the restaurant—will continue to operate as usual, while an adjacent suite in the building will continue to be leased to 3rd Street Pub. "We're just excited about having our own little piece of downtown Baton Rouge here," Macicek says, adding that the purchase secures the restaurant's downtown location for the long term. "We've seen the growth of downtown Baton Rouge and are excited about where it's headed," he says, "so we thought it was time for us to plant some...

Quaker Steak & Lube to open in Gonzales shopping center

A roughly 15,000-square-foot shopping center set to go up in Gonzales near the Tanger Outlet Mall and Cabela's outdoors store will include the Baton Rouge area's first Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant. The center will also include a second restaurant, as well as enough retail space for up to four tenants, says Geno Iafrate, president and CEO of i-10 Hospitality, which is developing the center. Discussions are ongoing with prospective restaurant and retail tenants, Iafrate says. "We have had pretty substantial interest from regional and national concepts," he says of the restaurants that have expressed interest in the 3,500-square-foot space. Quaker Steak & Lube will occupy roughly 6,000 square feet in the center, for which a groundbreaking ceremony on a 2.5-acre site at 2706 S. Cabela's Parkway will take place on Monday, and the restaurant is expected to open sometime before Christmas. i-10 Hospitality

Mastering the master plans

Several firms are in the midst of redesigning areas of the city in ways that are a long time coming.

BR leads nation again in quarterly housing survey

Though the numbers suggest the local market lost a little steam over the second quarter, Baton Rouge continues to lead the nation's largest metro areas in the latest Leading Markets Index from the National Association of Home Builders/First American. The quarterly report tracks approximately 350 U.S. metro areas and measures how they're performing compared to their pre-recession levels of economic and housing activity. Based on housing permits and prices, as well as local employment data, each metro area is given an index score. The nationwide score in the second quarter report edged up slightly to 0.89, meaning that based on current data, the U.S. housing market has not returned to its pre-recession normal and is running at 89% of normal activity. Baton Rouge's index score for the second quarter is 1.39, meaning it was performing 39% better during the quarter than it was before the economic crisis.

French Market Bistro plans for expansion, improvements

French Market Bistro will soon become a little more comfortable, says Justin McDonald, who co-owns both French Market Bistro and Mansurs on the Boulevard. "We're taking over the suite next door and expanding," McDonald says. "The expansion is to give our guests more comfort in a couple of places: the restrooms and the bar." The restaurant currently operates out of suite B of Highland Place, a shopping center at 16645 Highland Road near Interstate 10. It will expand into the 1,800-square-foot adjacent suite C, which is on French Market's right if you're facing the restaurant. Suite C formerly housed Via Consignment Interiors but has remained vacant for about a year, McDonald says. The remodel will include new restrooms to the left of the entrance where the bar currently stands and a new and improved bar—which will feature a charbroiler for "our famous charbroiled oysters from Mansurs," McDonald says—in the new space to the right of the entrance. Other improvements include...

'Business Report': Three generations of Dedmans have expanded a restaurant concept from carhop to catering

In 1972, a local restaurant owner named Frank Dedman Sr. made a life-changing decision. Eight years earlier, in 1964, he had opened a drive-in eatery that sold car-side burgers, poboys and homemade ice cream. As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, the successful Blue Bird Drive-In grew to three locations in Baton Rouge, but Dedman predicted the eventual decline of the carhop concept and began considering a new format with staying power. He found it in the country breakfast. "My dad went from serving lunch and dinner to serving breakfast and lunch," says son Frank Dedman Jr. "He traded ice cream for biscuits." Dedman closed the Blue Birds but converted the one on Airline Highway north of Florida Boulevard to a new spot he named Frank's. The menu was steeped in Southern culinary staples. Breakfast was centered on buttermilk biscuits, pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. Lunch was known for plate lunch specials, which Dedman's wife, Carolyn, prepared. The...

Latte e Miele owner closes Jefferson Highway café, looks to sell

Two years after opening Latte e Miele at 7809 Jefferson Highway, near Bocage, co-owner Luca Di Martino has closed the popular café and gelato shop for good. Di Martino made the difficult decision to shutter the restaurant after spending several months caring for his father and business partner, Corrado Di Martino, who died recently from brain cancer at the age of 64. Di Martino says the restaurant did good business and had a loyal and dedicated following, as well as a talented staff that included chef Marcus Day. But Di Martino had also spent more than $100,000 renovating and expanding Latte e Miele—not including all new kitchen appliances he purchased—and could not afford to keep the business running while also tending to family obligations. "What small business owner can afford to be away for four months and not lose money?" Di Martino says. "They did an amazing job running things while I was away, but you can only sustain that for so long … Marcus deserved more...

'Business Report': After six decades, Jay's Bar-B-Q remains a family-owned culinary fixture in BR

In April 1954, a Pak-a-Sak convenience store manager in Baton Rouge named Jay Prothro got the itch to open his own business. As Business Report details in a feature from the current issue, the married young father didn't know what kind of venture to launch; he was simply driven by the idea of entrepreneurship. But inspiration wasn't far away. A friend was opening a barbecue restaurant in Lake Charles at the same time, and owning a barbecue eatery seemed as worthy a prospect as any. Prothro quit his job and sunk his savings into transforming a former hot dog stand on Government Street into a small barbecue spot he called Jay's. The simple menu consisted of barbecue sandwiches and poboys served with an unusually thin, savory sauce that diverged from Texas-style molasses-based sauces common at the time. Prothro set his prices higher than the norm in Baton Rouge in the mid-50s, but customers didn't balk. By 1960, Jay's Bar-B-Q had moved into new, larger quarters a block away on...

Louie's move pushed back until fall

Louie's Café won't be moving into its new location on Lake Street by the end of the summer as originally planned. Permitting and construction delays have pushed back the timeline, and owner Jimmy Wetherford says it could be October before the restaurant's new site—a former Wendy's—is ready. "But I'm not going to worry about it," says Wetherford, who has owned the popular 24-hour diner since 1978. "If we were a new business we'd be in a hurry to get in. But we're already open so we're not going to move until we're ready, because I don't want to risk doing it wrong." Wetherford and Louie's co-owner Frank Duvic acquired the former Wendy's property just down the street from Louie's current location in March for $825,000 and announced plans to spend $200,000 renovating...

Still in the family

In April 1954, a Pak-a-Sak convenience store manager in Baton Rouge named Jay Prothro got the itch to open his own business. The married young father didn't know what kind of venture to launch; he was simply driven by the idea of entrepreneurship.

Lord of the rings

The doughnut shop is an American institution.
Before gas stations became convenience stores, these establishments were one of the few places a consumer could purchase a cup of coffee without going to a full-service restaurant. National brands like Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme spread like wildfire over the second half of the 20th century, sometimes coexisting with successful mom-and-pop doughnut shops.

Watch 'em rise

In 1972, a local restaurant owner named Frank Dedman Sr. made a life-changing decision. Eight years earlier, in 1964, he had opened a drive-in eatery that sold car-side burgers, po-boys and homemade ice cream.

Nouveau tradition

See more photos of the City Club.
At its august quarters on North Boulevard and Fourth Street, the City Club has long been a haven for Baton Rouge's business and social elite.
It's a place where top deals are made, clients are signed and connections are forged. Longtime members refer to the club's veteran waiters by name, and waiters, in turn, can quickly anticipate the members' needs.
For many up-and-comers, holding stock in the City Club is a social right of passage. Some of them will one day serve on the facility's board of directors.

Looking back, looking forward

As Baton Rouge continues to look at ways to reshape its infrastructure to fit a complete streets model, it might be helpful to look back at how the city grew to where it is today. The US Geological Survey has historical maps of the city dating back to 1908, when areas like Southdowns and along Highland and Perkins roads were little more than swamplands and fields.

Expanded Bayou Country Superfest generated record-setting weekend for BR hotels

Baton Rouge-area hotels took in a record $3.4 million during the fifth annual Bayou Country Superfest, which was held over the three-day Memorial Day weekend at Tiger Stadium, according to figures from Smith Travel Research that were released Wednesday by Visit Baton Rouge. This year saw the festival expanded from two to three days, which boosted attendance to a record high 135,000 fans, festival organizers say. "Guests that I spoke to really enjoyed that extra night. It made all the difference," says Gary Jupiter, president of the Baton Rouge Lodging Association and general manager of the DoubleTree Hotel. "We had guests from all 50 states and at least 10 different countries. We were definitely well-represented." STR figures show Baton Rouge area hotels took in $1.23 million on the Friday of the event weekend, $1.26 million on Saturday and $914,000 on Sunday. "Around five years ago, the hotel industry used to dread the Memorial Day weekend. Now we really look forward to it," says...

App for BR restaurants, bars in development

Although many Baton Rouge restaurants and bars use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to market their menus and specials, Bottoms Up—a new smartphone application preparing to launch in Baton Rouge in the coming months—hopes to connect patrons and establishments more efficiently by providing a platform exclusive to them. "This is a service that's built specifically for bars and restaurants to promote their specials and deals," Bottoms Up CEO Keith Martiny says, "whereas Facebook and Twitter are central networks that were amended to accommodate bars and restaurants." The app is free for users, who sign up to find out about special events like trivia night and redeem deals. Participating establishments—any establishment that has a liquor license and does promotional events—pay a $50 monthly or $500 annual fee following a 90-day free trial. In return, participating bars are made privy to patron analytics, including demographic...

Robert Mercer

It's hard to imagine a more experienced hotelier than Robert Mercer. With nearly 50 years in the business, Mercer took the helm at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel in October 2012. Previously, Mercer had managed numerous upscale hotel properties in major Southern cities—in Atlanta, Memphis and Orlando, to name a few. Though his employer is actually Davidson Hotels & Resorts, Mercer's job entails working closely with the developer and owner of the landmark Bluebonnet Boulevard property, Mike Wampold. "It is our job to ensure that his investment is well taken care of, well thought of in the community, and financially successful," Mercer says. The GM's transition at the award-winning hotel was free of surprises. "I knew before I arrived how beautiful the hotel was and that I would be able to have interactions with the owner, which I believe is most important in order to fully understand what drives him and what he expects from me as the general manager." Wampold Companies, he...

'225 Dine': Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar eyes September opening in downtown BR

Though an exact opening date has not been set for Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar, managing partner Derek Fitch tells 225 Dine the new downtown restaurant should be open in early September. The 3,000-square-foot restaurant is at 315 North Blvd., inside the historic Jolie building next to Fresh Junkie and facing North Boulevard Town Square. Fitch says Jolie Pearl will have a main oyster bar, a self-serve Bloody Mary bar, and additional space for private parties, meetings or live entertainment. The interior will have a rustic feel to capture the history of the Jolie building. As for the menu, Fitch says the restaurant will expand on the local oyster culture. "In south Louisiana, you can get oysters fried, raw or char-broiled, but nobody's expanded upon the ways you can have them," he says. "We'll have them baked, char-grilled … we'll have dozens of different toppings and flavors, and our raw oyster experience will be unlike any other." Jolie Pearl will also offer different...

BR restaurateurs bring home statewide awards

The Louisiana Restaurant Association has named Peter Sclafani and Ruffin Rodrigue of Ruffino's as its 2014 Restaurateurs of the Year, while its Hall of Fame inductees this year are the Marino family, who have owned and operated Gino's Restaurant in Baton Rouge since 1966. Also, the 2014 Associate Member of the Year is Mickey Freiberg, sales manager of Capitol City Produce, and the 2014 Advocate of the Year is Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge. Sclafani and Rodrigue have been busily expanding their business over the past year. In May, Ruffino's completed its $250,000 renovation of De La Ronde Hall on Third Street and has relocated its corporate headquarters to the downtown building. Besides serving as office space for Ruffino's—which operates two restaurants, one on Highland Road and another in Lafayette that was

Hotel near Airline and I-12 sells for $3.45 million

The Magnuson Hotel, located just off Airline Highway near Interstate 12, has sold for $3.45 million, according to land records filed with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. Baton Rouge-based hotel management company Raj Hospitality, acting under UNR Hospitality LLC, purchased the hotel, which is located at 9999 Gwenadele Ave. According to Raj Hospitality's website, the two-story Magnuson in Baton Rouge has 125 rooms and features free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, meeting facilities and an outdoor pool. Raj Hospitality also operates the Magnuson Hotels in Port Allen and Denham Springs, as well as the La Quinta Inn & Suites on O'Neal Lane and the Best Western of Denham Springs. The seller in the deal was Madison, Ga.-based Shriya Hotels Inc. Among other notable property transfers recently filed with the Clerk of Court is the sale of an office warehouse located at 20312 Highland Road for $1.14 million to 20312 Highland Road LLC. —Rachel Alexander

Saturation point

Looking at all the recent and upcoming projects happening along Third Street, I'm wondering if there is any inch of space left to develop.

Walk-On's signs on as first major tenant at Americana TND in Zachary

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar has signed on as the first major tenant in the Villages of Americana traditional neighborhood development that's under construction in Zachary, Commercial Properties Realty Trust announced this morning. "We feel that being at the front door of a community like Americana is the ideal place for us," says Brandon Landry, co- owner and founder of Walk-On's Enterprises, in a prepared statement. "The neighborhood, the new YMCA, being close to the Zachary ball parks and the city of Zachary all helped create the perfect catalyst that led us to this great location." The new restaurant, which will be Walk-On's fifth overall, will measure 4,500 square feet and include outdoor seating. CPRT says The Villages of Americana, Zachary's first TND, will include three 33,000-square-foot residential-over-retail buildings, along with other commercial buildings available. Each building will have approximately 30 apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms. Level Homes announced...

Freshjunkie opens in downtown BR

Yet another new restaurant opens downtown today. Freshjunkie, a popular salad and wrap restaurant located in the Main Street Market, will open at 11 a.m. at 303 North Blvd., across from the North Boulevard Town Square. The opening has been a long time coming. Owner Pat Fellows, who juggles his restaurant business around a full-time career as a sales rep for Mizuno shoes, originally hoped to have his second Freshjunkie location open last fall. But the project fell behind for a variety of reasons. "I wanted to be open sooner, but we plan to be here for a long time, and that's what matters," Fellows says. The original Freshjunkie location will remain open in the Main Street Market, and Fellows expects business to pick up there once construction is complete on the nearby IBM building. As for the new location, which occupies the 400-square-foot space formerly home to Capitol Creamery, its proximity to Town Square and Third Street should keep it very busy, Fellows predicts. "There's just...

'225 Dine': Beausoleil completes expansion with new bar and banquet room

Beausoleil just got a little more comfortable in its location. As 225 Dine reports, the restaurant and bar at 7731 Jefferson Highway now has a new bar and banquet space right next door. The additional space features a concrete bar with seating for 16 and a banquet room that can accommodate about 50 patrons. Beausoleil's signature cocktails and a few beers on tap will be featured at the new bar. The space is also furnished with two 45-inch HD TVs for sporting events. Co-owner Jeff Conaway says the expanded space will give Beausoleil new opportunities. "Beer dinners, wine dinners, cocktail dinners … we'd like to have a new one every month as soon as we get comfortable," Conaway says. The small bar in the main dining room may be evolving into a "different animal," he says, but he couldn't comment on future plans yet. So far, he's heard positive response about the expansion. Earlier this month,

Downtown Baton Rouge on track to surpass 1,000 hotel rooms

With the bill to create a TIF district for the historic Louisiana National Bank building downtown having cleared the House and Senate with no amendments, developer Mike Wampold's plan to transform the building into a 146-room hotel is likely to become a reality. Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to take action on Senate Bill 648 on June 21, according to a spokesperson in his office, and, should he sign it, DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer will be on his way to meeting his original goal of seeing 1,000 hotel rooms built downtown. "Considering we started in 2001 with no hotel rooms downtown," he says, "it's going to be very exciting to see." The 1,000-room goal stemmed from a KPMG feasibility study on the River Center that suggested the center needed at least 1,000 rooms within walking distance of it in order to compete for conventions, Rhorer says.

Land for Siegen shopping center anchored by Burgersmith purchased for $845K

With Lake Charles developer Michael Hankins' acquisition of a plot of land at 6212 Siegen Lane now finalized, Lafayette-based Burgersmith is one step closer to opening the doors to its third location overall and second in Baton Rouge. Under Siegen Shopping Center LLC, Hankins and Jason Garcille purchased the parcel, which is adjacent to TJ Ribs, for approximately $845,000, according to land records filed today with the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court. As Daily Report previously reported, Hankins plans to build a 6,400-square-foot shopping center, for which Burgersmith will serve as anchor tenant. Burgersmith, which operates its first Baton Rouge location in the Acadian-Perkins Plaza at the corner of Perkins Road and South Acadian Thruway, will lease approximately 3,400 square feet of the building, leaving 3,000 square feet to be leased to one or two other tenants.

Ruffino's completes De La Ronde renovation, moves headquarters downtown

Ruffino's has completed its $250,000 renovation of De La Ronde Hall on Third Street and has relocated its corporate headquarters to the downtown building. "It's a lot of money to spend on a building you're just leasing and don't own," says Ruffin Rodrigue, who co-owns Ruffino's with executive chef Peter Sclafani. "But we really want to be downtown, and this location is the 50-yard line of downtown." Besides serving as office space for Ruffino's—which operates two restaurants, one on Highland Road and one in Lafayette—De La Ronde Hall is now a banquet and catering facility for Ruffino's. Rodrigue says Ruffino's needed a larger space to host private parties and corporate functions, as the Highland Road restaurant could only accommodate 200 guests in its private dining room. De La Ronde Hall can accommodate as many as 600 in its large dining rooms. The building also has a small private dining room that can seat 30. Ruffino's has grown rapidly in the past two years and...

'225 Dine': BR chefs face off for coveted King of Louisiana Seafood title

Some of Louisiana's finest chefs will go head-to-head for the title of King of Louisiana Seafood at this weekend's New Orleans Wine & Food Experience. The seventh annual Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off takes place at the Morial Convention Center Saturday at 2 p.m. The event features 10 chefs from Louisiana restaurants cooking for the crown and chance to represent the state's seafood industry at events throughout the year. Three Capital City chefs will compete this weekend: Ryan Andre of Le Creolé, Scott Varnedoe of Restaurant IPO and David Dickensauge of Bin 77. Baton Rouge has the second highest number of chefs at the competition, behind New Orleans, which will have four. This year's judges include LSU AgCenter Food Incubator Director Gaye Sandoz. The reigning King of Louisiana Seafood,

Graves says 'real sense of community' in downtown BR sets Raising Cane's latest location apart

Todd Graves has been to more than a few Raising Cane's ribbon cuttings in the 17 years since founding the fried chicken finger chain. With 184 restaurants around the country, including 137 that are company owned, new Cane's outlets are seemingly opening just about every other week. But Graves says today's ribbon cutting at the former Richoux Building on the corner of Florida and North Third streets in the heart of downtown Baton Rouge was different. "We had more than 150 people come out just for the ribbon cutting," he says. "At a suburban location we might have 12 or 15 people. These were people that have downtown in their hearts—they were purveyors, neighbors, other business owners. There's a real sense of community down here." The latest Cane's restaurant is the chain's first downtown location anywhere, and it was a somewhat risky proposition for the company, which operates on a small margin-high volume model. "Without having a drive-thru, inline restaurants pose more of a...

Barcadia renovations to start soon at former Serranos site near LSU

Having recently filed their plan review application with the city-parish Department of Public Works, the owners of Barcadia—a burger joint, bar and arcade—should start construction soon on a new Baton Rouge restaurant in the former Serranos Salsa Company location near LSU, says Stanton Ripp, who co-owns the Barcadia in New Orleans with business partner Billy Blatty. The two acquired the former Serranos location in February. Renovations on the roughly 5,100-square-foot restaurant and patio will cost approximately $500,000 and take 70 to 90 days to complete, Ripp says. "I'd like to be open before football season if at all possible," he notes. While the Baton Rouge restaurant and bar won't be quite the size of the New Orleans location, Ripp says Barcadia will use the 1,500-square-foot outdoor space to its advantage. "We have some pretty awesome plans in the works for the...

Walk-On's Enterprises moves to larger headquarters, plans three new restaurants

Walk-On's Enterprises—the restaurant company formerly known as Last In Concepts, which operates Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar, Happy's Irish Pub and Walk-On's Catering—has moved from its 4,500-square-foot location on Main Street downtown to a 7,000-square-foot space just a few blocks away on Third Street. Amidst hiring five new corporate positions and introducing the Walk-On's brand at the annual National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago, Walk-On's Enterprises co-owner Brandon Landry says he realized the company had outgrown the 460 Main St. office it has occupied for the past four years. "We needed to expand," he says. "We needed more space … [but] we knew we wanted to stay downtown." Landry talked to Chenevert Architects, which was looking to downsize its office space at 232 Third St. Meanwhile, Level Homes—located adjacent to the former Walk-On's Enterprises headquarters—had also outgrown its 3,500-square-foot office at 450 Main St. So Level Homes...

Stabiler loses legal battle over damage at former home of Little Village

Restaurateur Wayne Stabiler will have to pay $15,000 in damages plus attorneys fees to the owners of the downtown building at 453 Lafayette St., which previously housed one of his most popular restaurants, The Little Village. A jury in 19th Judicial District Court awarded the damages Thursday to CDR Properties, which alleged in a 2010 lawsuit that The Little Village intentionally damaged the building in the process of moving out when it relocated to the nearby Kress Building. "The jury decided that the restaurant intentionally damaged the property and awarded damages to us because of that," says plaintiff Rob Miller, owner of CDR Properties. "It's upsetting that someone would destroy something as beautiful and irreplaceable as the bar that was built with timbers from the original building." The suit alleged The Little Village used sledgehammers, saws and wrecking bars to destroy a...

Cook: City Pork opening second BR location on Jefferson

The highly successful City Pork, open at the Perkins Road overpass since December 2013, is expanding in Baton Rouge, with a second deli and charcuterie set to open in the location at 7327 Jefferson Highway that was a longtime home to Dempsey's until it closed early last month. Shortly after Dempsey's closed, Brent Struthers with Beau Box Commercial Real Estate secured the lease of the building for City Pork owner Stephen Hightower, who purchased the restaurant in January as Exclamation Point Hospitality Group, a newly formed restaurant company that also owns Leroy's on Nicholson Drive and Frankie's Dawg House in the Perkins Road overpass area. The concept for City Pork—which has been hugely successful due to both its food and location—was originally developed by...

Newk's Eatery considering two BR locations

Final development plans for Towne Center Business Park were among the plans submitted to the city-parish Planning Commission in time for today's application deadline. The plans include renderings of a Starbucks Coffee and a Newk's Eatery—a Mississippi-based café chain—both of which will occupy the 6,350-square-foot, two-suite building on an approximately 1.7-acre plot between Chase Bank and Carrabba's Italian Grill on the corner of Commerce Circle and Corporate Boulevard. According to the application, the Starbucks will be 1,850 square feet with a 400-square-foot outdoor patio, while the Newk's will be 4,500 square feet with a 500-square-foot outdoor dining area. Gary Brem, director of development for Newk's Eatery, says that while Newk's has yet to sign the lease for the Towne Center Business Park space, it will likely be finalized within the next 30 days. Brem couldn't confirm Newk's plans to open a location in the former Gatti's Pizza at 3332 Lake St., however, though...

Pastime Junior in Drusilla center closes

The Pastime Junior at 3482 Drusilla Lane has closed. The restaurant, which had operated in the Drusilla Shopping Center since the mid-2000s, had its last day in operation Saturday. The eatery brought many of the menu favorites from the original downtown Pastime, including po-boys, calzones and its signature Boudin Pizza, to the Bocage, Tara and Jefferson Highway neighborhoods in south Baton Rouge. Donnie Jarreau, who acquired the shopping center for $10.5 million earlier this month, says the restaurant's owners had decided not to renew their lease prior to his acquisition of the 140,000-square-foot center. He says it is likely he will try to fill the 2,000-square-foot space vacated by Pastime Junior with another restaurant, though he is not in any hurry to do so. Jarreau plans to renovate the center and will be changing up the tenant mix, which could impact the Pastime Junior space.

City Pork purchased by owner of Leroy's, Frankie's Dawg House

City Pork, the charcuterie that opened near the Perkins Road overpass in December, is under new ownership. The restaurant was acquired in late January by Exclamation Point Hospitality Group, a newly formed restaurant company that also owns Leroy's on Nicholson Drive and Frankie's Dawg House on Perkins Road. “We have three unique concept restaurants and obviously, right now, City Pork is the hot one,” says Stephen Hightower, who created Exclamation Point Hospitality early this year when he decided to buy City Pork. “But I think they all complement each other and will grow.” Exclamation Point Hospitality acquired a majority of City Pork's ownership from Trey Williams, who co-founded the charcuterie with Chase Lyons. Lyons is still a partner in City Pork. “I had a great time creating the concept and bringing something new to Baton Rouge,” says Williams. “But it's a tough business and I did not see myself able to take City Pork to the level that...

BR tourism officials gearing up for a big summer

Local tourism officials are gearing up for a blockbuster summer, with three major events set to take place back to back between Memorial Day weekend and late June. The three-day Bayou Country Superfest will be May 23-25 in LSU's Tiger Stadium, followed by the Miss USA Pageant June 8 at the Baton Rouge River Center. The pageant will be followed by the U.S. Youth Soccer Regional Tournament June 19-26, a weeklong event expected to bring some 15,000 visitors to Baton Rouge. "It is going to be a fantastic summer," says Christy Chachere, communications coordinator for Visit Baton Rouge. "All three events reach very different target markets and attract visitors in-state, out of state and international." Though the Miss USA Pageant will technically bring the fewest visitors to the area—an estimated 4,000 or so tickets will be sold—it has the potential to bring the most exposure to the Capital Region. Event organizers and contestants arrive several weeks early and, as the pageant...

New barbecue food truck getting ready to roll in Mid City, downtown areas

Millie's Bar-B-Q, a new mobile food concept that will focus on the Mid City and downtown Baton Rouge areas, hopes to be rolling by June, says owner Claudia Gray. The food "truck" will be more like a trailer, Gray says, and will offer menu items like barbecue sandwiches, hamburgers and chicken six days a week. "We'll have pretty much anything BBQ," she says. In addition to Mid City and downtown, she hopes to reach out to and serve the industrial plants near those areas. Gray says she is working on setting up the first trailer right now, but hopes to add a second one down the road. Her previous experience in the food industry includes working for her brother's restaurant, Ray's BBQ, which was located at N. 38th Street and South Choctaw Drive but has since closed. Millie's occupies an office in Mid City Tower—formerly the Dean Tower—along with E&C Management Group, Gray's...

'225 Dine': Omi 'an underrated gem' offering hibachi, sushi and more

"An underrated gem in Baton Rouge's food scene is Omi," writes 225's Matthew Sigur in his review of the restaurant from the latest 225 Dine e-newsletter. The restaurant has a mix of Japanese dishes, such as sushi rolls and plates from the Hibachi grill, as well as authentic Chinese cuisine sans the typical buffet line. "For starters, try the spring roll, which consists of two of the traditional Asian favorite appetizers chopped into six bites," Sigur suggests. "Each piece is jammed with crabstick, cucumber, avocado, masago, tamago and onions, topped with the restaurant's special white sauce. The crunch of the roll and flavorful burst makes the usually standard fare a standout." On the entrée side, Sigur says you can't go wrong with Black Pepper Beef—"a sizzling dish served piping hot in a cast-iron dish with a broth of garlic, onions and celery with a side bowl of steamed white rice." Though the location, 7951 One Calais Ave., was once considered an eyesore, with...

Former LSU students can now search for McDonald's refunds online

The names of approximately 3,900 former LSU students have been added to the state's database for unclaimed properties, meaning former students can now search online to see if they are owed money as a result of an alleged scheme by which former restaurant employees at the Baton Rouge campus stole more than $30,000 over the past year. "LSU reached out to us to help return this money, and we are happy to do so," says Treasurer John Kennedy in a press release issued today. "Our Unclaimed Property Division refunds money day in and day out, and we will work hard to help people claim what rightfully belongs to them." Kennedy says LSU is reimbursing current students for money lost in the alleged scheme—for which at least seven former employees have have been arrested or issued summons by police—and has turned over the names of alumni and former students to Kennedy's office to handle refunds. According to police, the former employees overcharged students' meal plan cards in the...

LPK Bar & Grill closes on Corporate, new Mexican restaurant to take its place

LPK Bar & Grill has closed its doors and removed its name from the building at 7474 Corporate Blvd., in a retail center across from Towne Center, while signage for a new Mexican restaurant and bar has gone up on the space. While those behind the new venture—called Trios Mexican Bar & Grill—could not be reached for comment this afternoon on when the new business will open, it's apparent they're set to replace LPK. On the closed restaurant's door today was a note apologizing to LPK customers for any inconvenience the closing has caused, as well as a brief notice that Trios has applied for its alcohol permit. Construction workers were working on the restaurant's interior. Trios was listed in the February report of new business registrations under the legal name of Rabiyah Inc. According to the Louisiana Secretary of State's website, Rabiyah Inc. was also filed in February by Issam Elzahr. LPK did not return calls for comment. Elzahr—who is also listed as the agent and...

Zeeland Street Market, Louie's Café seek permission to serve alcohol

If all goes as planned, popular Garden District eatery Zeeland Street Market and the new Louie's Café near the LSU campus will both be serving alcohol. Applications to rezone the respective properties to allow for alcohol service were filed with the Planning Commission. The owners of Louie's are seeking a rezoning of the former Wendy's on Lake Street, which is located less than a block away from the building Louie's is currently operating in and has called home since 1986. The owners purchased the building last month for $825,000, with plans to recreate the look and feel of the existing Louie's as much as possible. Also filed with the Planning Commission recently is a rezoning request from Gary Whitehead, who wants 2.14 acres at 14757 South Harrell's Ferry Road to be rezoned from rural to LC2 for the construction of an office and retail center. Zoning change applications were also...

Wine Loft at Perkins Rowe closes after lease problems

The Wine Loft at Perkins Rowe has closed its doors after the owners were unable to negotiate a new lease agreement, says Donna Taylor, senior vice president of Stirling Management, which took over management of the the mixed-use development in January. "They closed this past Sunday because they were not current in their obligations with their landlord," Taylor says. "I think the landlord and the prior management company did try to work with them on a solution, but unfortunately they couldn't work it out." Taylor says a number of tenants are interested in moving into Perkins Rowe. While the vacated space would be a natural fit for another bar and restaurant concept, Taylor says, "there are several options out there … and we're going to bring in the best tenant that we can." According to the company's website, there are 10 Wine Loft locations in Alabama, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. NOLA.com reports a Mandeville...

Sammy's Grill owner 'in negotiations' to open new restaurant and bar concept at The Oasis

Developer Chris Shaheen says he is close to inking a deal with Sammy's Grill owner Sammy Nagem to develop a "sports bistro and patio bar" as a part of The Oasis, an entertainment-recreational complex he plans to create on a 6-acre plot at Burbank Drive and South Kenilworth. "We are currently in negotiations with Sammy's," Shaheen confirms, noting the restaurant and bar will be a new concept and will not carry the Sammy's namesake brand. "We are hoping to have everything tied up within the next two weeks and are hoping to start construction sometime at the end of May." The 5,500-square-foot restaurant will open out onto a 10,000-square-foot, climate-controlled deck that will include "the largest outdoor TV screen ever," Shaheen says, adding that The Oasis will be big enough to host movie nights, video game tournaments and other such events. Phase one of construction will include the restaurant and bar, as well as an entertainment deck and five volleyball courts—all of which...

New oyster bar on tap for downtown aiming for something 'totally different'

A new oyster bar called Jolie Pearl is set to open by the summer in the buildings at 311 and 315 North Blvd. downtown. "One of those two buildings was originally named Jolie, so that is why we chose the name," says Rick Volland, who is part-owner in the new venture and also owns the Stroubes and Capital City Grill restaurants downtown. "We like the historical significance of that." The buildings—which together total 3,000 square feet and previously housed The Downtown Newsstand and Jobe's Cafe—will remain separated by a wall, but will have an opening between them. One half will feature a traditional oyster bar and table seating; the other half will be available for catering and parties. "Downtown doesn't have a lot of oysters," Volland says. "Everyone has a fried oyster po-boy, but we're trying to bring something in that is totally different." To that end, Jolie Pearl will stick to a menu with few items outside of oysters. The restaurant will serve raw, baked and...

Pat's Cajun Seafood and Steak to move in to former Las Palmas on Jefferson

Pat's Cajun Seafood and Steak, which has two other locations in south Louisiana, will occupy the former Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant—which closed last year—on Jefferson Highway between Essen Lane and Corporate Boulevard. "We're trying to open up in June," says owner and head chef Jude Huval, adding that renovations include adding on a crawfish boiling shack behind the kitchen and installing tin and cypress boards inside. "We're trying to give it that Cajun look." Huval's parents, Pat and Agnes, opened the original Pat's Fisherman's Wharf in 1952 in Henderson and quickly became known for their Cajun specialties. Thirty years later, Huval's sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Ricky Perioux, opened the second location—Pat's of Henderson—in Lake Charles. Huval, a graduate of the Louisiana Culinary Institute, has spent his career working at the original Pat's in Henderson, and in 2012 he competed on Food Network's Chopped, a reality television series on...

'225 Dine': CrawFete is just around the corner

The Baton Rouge Epicurean Society will hold its third annual CrawFête Thursday, April 3, at Mockler Beverage Company, 11811 Reiger Road. And as 225 Dine reports, the gourmet crawfish festival will feature some of Baton Rouge's most talented chefs preparing their best crawfish dishes. The participating restaurants are Bin 77, Culinary Productions, Galatoire's Bistro, Hot Tails Restaurant, Juban's, Latil's Landing Restaurant at Houmas House Plantation, Mestizo, Outback Steakhouse, The Pelican House, Ralph & Kacoo's, Restaurant IPO, Ruffino's, Sammy's Grill and Catering, Stroubes and Sullivan's Steakhouse. Tickets are $50 per person. Proceeds support the Epicurean Society's childhood health and nutrition programs in the greater Baton Rouge area. One dish from the menu that caught our eye: a crawfish and lobster tower from Chef Jeremy Langlois of Latil's Landing. The plate is piled with spiced Louisiana crawfish and lobster salad, layered with avocado and papaya and served with...

The Grill taking over former Galatoire's location on Perkins

After sitting vacant for the past three years, the former Galatoire's Bistro location on Perkins Road, near Highland Road and Interstate 10, will soon house a restaurant again. Jay Sadeq—who closed his Prairieville restaurant, Charlie Brown's Family Sports Bar and Grill, in September 2013—will open The Grill in the space at 17451 Perkins Road, next to Patti Dupree Furniture and Interiors. Sadeq says he aims to offer a casual grill in an area where several high-end restaurants such as French Market Bistro, Ruffino's and Le Creolé dominate. While Charlie Brown's menu highlighted burgers, po-boys and wings, The Grill will offer a greater variety of steaks and veal chops as well as emphasize fresh seafood items, such as chargrilled oysters, and healthy specials, such as quinoa dishes, Sadeq says. Prices at The Grill will be “mid-range,” Sadeq says, slightly...

Freshening up the brand

At the start of the new year, CC's Coffee House came into its own.

Donnie Jarreau developing Sonic in Central

Donnie Jarreau is developing a new Sonic location in Central for a locally based franchisee who has several other Sonic restaurants in the Capital Region. In a deal that closed Friday, Jarreau acquired a parcel near the Central Thruway for $390,000 from SDI of Central City LLC. Per the agreement, Jarreau will develop the restaurant as a build to suit, and then sell it back to SDI of Central City. According to the Secretary of State's website, SDI of Central City is owned by Larry Tucker, who also owns several other Sonic locations in the area. Jarreau says most of the commercial development in Central is still near the existing retail corridors of Sullivan, Wax, Greenwell Springs and Hooper roads. However, the opening of the Central Thruway last summer has created new opportunities, particularly for fast-food outlets and convenience stores. "You have more people coming to and from work," he says. "So ideally they'll stop for breakfast and dinner." The new Sonic will be 1,200 square...

Stabiler bringing new restaurant concept to Jefferson, says he has more in mind

Wayne Stabiler, who has created popular restaurants such as The Little Village and Le Creolé—and more recently opened Stab's Steak and Seafood in Central—tells Daily Report he closed today on the purchase of a Jefferson Highway site on which he plans to develop a new restaurant concept. "We're really excited. There's just something about the energy in that area that I really like," says Stabiler of the property at 7666 Jefferson Highway, which is located just across the street from Bocage Village. Stabiler says he's still finalizing the new concept and restaurant name and is not ready to discuss those details just yet, but will likely have an announcement in the coming months. "We're looking to be the hot spot in Baton Rouge with this one," he says. "I'm also looking to make an announcement in the next few months on several other concepts that I'm planning to bring to town." Stabiler, who also owns a namesake catering company, says he purchased the Jefferson...

Louie's owners hope to recreate existing atmosphere in new location

The owners of Louie's Café plan to spend more than $200,000 renovating the former Wendy's building on Lake Street—which, as Daily Report first reported Thursday, they've purchased for $825,000—and will attempt to recreate the look and feel of the existing Louie's as much as possible. "It will take a little bit of work to turn a Wendy's into a Louie's," says co-owner Jimmy Wetherford Jr., who along with Frank Duvic has owned the business since 1978. "But we're going to recreate it as closely as we can with the open counter and cooking." Wetherford and Duvic plan to relocate their 24-hour eatery to its nearby new digs—located less than a block away from the building Louie's has called home since 1986—by the end of the summer. "We weren't looking to move," Wetherford says. "But the building had a 'For Sale' sign on it, and it's one of just two...

'225 Dine': Nick Hufft talks the new Curbside at local Barcadia

When Nick Hufft announced he would be taking his talents to New Orleans, setting up his beloved Curbside Burgers inside Barcadia Bar and Grill, he knew he'd hear complaints from Capital City customers. "It was a very tough decision," Hufft tells 225 Dine. "[Baton Rouge] is where my business started and made its name. The only reason we agreed to go to New Orleans and set up with Barcadia is the opportunity to come back to Baton Rouge. From day one, we told Barcadia that we wanted to bring this to Baton Rouge. We knew this would blow up here." After getting Curbside up and running successfully in New Orleans, Hufft and Barcadia's Louisiana operating partner Stan Ripp started looking at options here. In mid-February, Hufft confirmed that Curbside Burgers would return as part of the new Baton Rouge Barcadia in the former Serranos at 3347 Highland Road. Hufft says the venture will...

Louie's Café owners buy nearby Wendy's that closed last year

The former Wendy's restaurant near the LSU North Gates at 3322 Lake St.—which closed late last year—was sold Wednesday for $825,000 to Lake Street 3322 LLC, according to records filed with the East Baton Rouge Clerk of Court today. The buying LLC is represented by James Wetherford Jr. and Frank Duvic, who are listed as the president and vice president, respectively, of Louie's Café Inc. on the Secretary of State's website. Louie's, a 24-hour diner, is located at 209 W. State Street—just around the corner from the Wendy's. The seller in the deal was Diamond Land Co. LLC, represented by Donald L. Feinstein. In an unrelated deal recorded by the Clerk of Court today, the Louisiana Housing Corp., represented by Executive Director Frederick Tombar III, purchased a property at 11637 Industriplex Blvd. for $1,023,034. The seller in the deal was The Louisiana Association of Community Action Partnerships Inc., represented by Dorothy Oliver, its president and COO.

New Juban's Grille coming to Highland Park area

Real estate agent George Kurz and Kean's Fine Dry Cleaning owner Rock Rockenbaugh have filed a permit with the Planning Commission to develop Juban's Grille, a new restaurant that will be located in a retail development adjacent to Alexander's Highland Market, near the intersection of Highland and Old Perkins roads. As its name suggests, the new venture will also be affiliated with the venerable Juban's restaurant in Southdowns, though details remain under wraps for now. Juban's manager, Scott Callais, will say only that the restaurant will make an announcement about Juban's Grille in the next few weeks. According to records filed at the Planning Commission, the new restaurant will be 6,662 square feet and will serve alcohol. This is not Rockenbaugh's first project in the burgeoning area off Highland Road. Last fall, he confirmed plans to open a new Kean's location in the Highland...

Ruffino's moving offices and catering business downtown

Ruffino's is relocating its corporate headquarters and catering operation to De La Ronde Hall at 320 Third St. downtown, and plans to offer banquet and catering services for up to 500 patrons in the 8,500-square-foot space. "This location is the 50-yard-line of Baton Rouge, and it's probably the prettiest facility in the city," says Ruffino's co-owner Ruffin Rodrigue, who adds the new location will be called Ruffino's Catering and Events at De La Ronde Hall. "There is so much going on downtown, and this is where we want to be." Rodrigue says he and co-owner Peter Sclafani, Ruffino's executive chef, have been eyeing downtown for some time but were not yet ready to open a third full-service restaurant there, given their expansion last year with a Lafayette restaurant. "This enables us to have a presence downtown," he says. "We want to invest downtown." With the new endeavor comes a new partner: Howard Walker. He's the general manager of Ruffino's Highland Road restaurant and will join...

Hardee's to take over shuttered Backyard Burger locations in B.R., Denham Springs

Little more than two years after opening at 2327 O'Neal Lane, Backyard Burgers has closed its doors, making way for Hardee's to make its Baton Rouge debut. Paradigm Investment Group, the second largest Hardee's franchisee, last week purchased three stand-alone Backyard Burgers buildings—the O'Neal Lane location, as well as one each in Denham Springs and Mandeville—as part of a development agreement the group signed with Hardee's Corporate to develop 30 new restaurants in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans area markets over the next seven years, says Greg Hazard, Paradigm's chief operating officer. Paradigm currently owns and operates 97 Hardee's locations across the Florida panhandle, Alabama and Mississippi. "It's a natural extension for us to go into Baton Rouge and New Orleans, because it's contiguous to our current territory," Hazard says. In addition to offering the standard Hardee's menu, each of the 30 new restaurants in Louisiana will also introduce Hardee's Mexican...

Downtown B.R. hotels get boost from Mardi Gras bookings

While New Orleans hotels have been full with Carnival revelers over the five-day Mardi Gras holiday, those visitors are not translating into spillover crowds in Baton Rouge hotels, according to those in the industry. Nevertheless, officials at the city's growing number of downtown hotels say they have enjoyed some of their busiest weekends yet, thanks to local Mardi Gras festivities. "We have had 100% occupancy over the past three weekends," says Francis Grayson, general manager of Hotel Indigo. "And this was our biggest Mardi Gras since we opened three years ago." DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer says he received similar reports from top brass at the city's other downtown properties. "All the hotels were sold out last weekend," says Rhorer. "More importantly, several have had high occupancy rates in the 80% to 90% range over the past several months. That is very good news for downtown and quite high in the market." Citywide hotel occupancy rates in Baton Rouge typically average...

Jumpstart

For years Bill Qasem had his eye on the space in Siegen Marketplace that was home to Pancho's Mexican Buffet.

​'225 Dine': Tiger Deaux-nuts moving to Mid City

Tiger Deaux-nuts' gourmet flavors will call Mid City home come late April. Owner Jeff Herman tells 225 Dine his business on Jones Creek Road is moving to the Goodwood Shopping Center—whose tenants include Reginelli's and MJ's Café—in the former location of Hemingway's, a cigar and pipe tobacco shop at 684 Jefferson Hwy. Herman says he hopes the store will be open by around Easter, which falls on April 20 this year. The location will be open six or seven days a week for pick-up orders and will offer some room for dining in. Herman says he's also thinking about expanding the menu to offer savory donut options, biscuits, breakfast pastries and lunch. "I have a lot of ideas floating around," he says. "The main thing is that the gourmet donuts will be going in full force. We'll have lots of different creations, and the menu will be refreshed." Herman, an LSU grad, says his current location—which has been open since 2012—is poorly located and the Mid City...

It's (almost) official: Cane's coming downtown

One of downtown's worst-kept secrets is finally official: Raising Cane's will open its first downtown location in the iconic Richoux Building on the corner of North Third Street and Florida Street later this year. Cane's hung a banner Tuesday afternoon on the exterior of the building, reading: "Cane's Coming Soon. Now Hiring." A company spokesperson confirms today that Cane's will occupy about 3,000 square feet of the available 8,000 square feet on the ground floor, and hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-summer. "It's another game changer for downtown," says DDD Executive Director Davis Rhorer. "It is a very successful national franchise and the idea that it is homegrown, here in Baton Rouge, and locating down here is very significant for the climate of downtown." The 11,000-square-foot building, best known for its neon rooftop Coca-Cola sign, was acquired last spring by local businessman Mike Crouch for $1.2 million. At the time, he said he hoped to lease the second-floor...

Santa Fe Cattle Co. to take over Coursey location being vacated by Walk-On's

Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar is closing its Coursey Boulevard restaurant, making way for Baton Rouge's first Santa Fe Cattle Co. restaurant, which will open in the former Walk-On's space later this spring. The announcement was made today via a press release from Walk-On's. It comes on the heels of two other big announcements for the restaurant. In late January, Last In Concepts—the parent company of Walk-On's, Happy's Irish Pub, The Roux House and Schlittz & Giggles—announced its co-founders, Brandon Landry and Jack Warner, were parting ways. And in late December, Walk-On's announced plans to open a new location in Towne Center, in the space vacated by Mugshots Grill & Bar, which closed in November. The Coursey Boulevard location will be the sixth in Louisiana for Sante Fe Cattle Co., which...

Beausoleil talks expansion, new cocktail menu

Beausoleil Restaurant & Bar will have a new bar and banquet space next door by early summer, co-owner Jeff Conaway tells 225. The new concrete-top bar will feature room for about 16 patrons, and a banquet space with room for 50 will be located in the back. Conaway says the new bar will be an important addition for the restaurant—located at 7731 Jefferson Highway—which currently has a small bar with just enough room for a few patrons waiting for a table. "The bar we have now is an area where people that are dining might want to have a martini before they sit down," he says. "But if I were to take you back there to see all the ingredients we have, you'd be amazed. There is so much that we can highlight [with a designated bar space], it's insane." Beausoleil is taking over the roughly 2,000 square feet of space next to the existing restaurant that's been vacated by I Love Shoes. The new space will be used to accommodate private parties and on-site catering. Though...

Willy's Chicken and Waffles set to open on Nicholson

The owner of a new chicken and waffles restaurant says he hopes to be open at 3285 Nicholson Drive, in the former location of Tigris Deli, by the end of the month. Greg Williams, owner of Willy's Chicken and Waffles, is a Baton Rouge native and former Raising Cane's executive who left the area after Hurricane Katrina and started working as a restaurant consultant with VSAG in Austin, Texas, as well as with Piccadilly's food service division. Williams says he got the idea for his new restaurant after seeing the success of Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in Los Angeles and Big Mama's in Dallas. "I thought about how good a concept like that would be in the South," he says. "The reason for opening is, 'Why not?' Everybody loves chicken, and I have yet to meet someone who doesn't like a waffle." While several local restaurants serve chicken and waffles, Willy's will be Baton Rouge's first restaurant dedicated solely to the popular pairing. The restaurant will have four combos, including a...

'N.Y. Times' takes a day trip through B.R.

"Louisiana's capital has neither the nonstop party scene nor the obvious cultural charm of its more celebrated neighbor to the southeast, yet this laid-back Mississippi River town offers a unique appeal," reads a new New York Times travel feature on Baton Rouge published online today. "The French, Spanish, Creole and Cajun influences of its three-century history blend with the youthful spirit of Louisiana State University's nearly 30,000 students, stewing up a Southern mélange that's on full display during Baton Rouge's own Mardi Gras celebrations, through March 1, as well as events like the Baton Rouge Blues Festival (April 12)." The feature is a virtual day trip through Baton Rouge, with stops at some of the city's local landmarks and lesser-known treasures. "Along rural roads and in revitalized downtown neighborhoods, inside strip malls and by industrial sites, this unheralded city reveals a dynamic musical heritage and rich culinary history that demand to be discovered,"...

'225 Dine': Bistro Byronz to open second B.R. location this fall

Bistro Byronz, a neighborhood restaurant with locations on Government Street in Baton Rouge as well as in Mandeville and Shreveport, will open its second Capital City location in late fall. Bistro Byronz co-owner Emelie Kantrow Alton tells 225 Dine the new location will be at The Settlement at Willow Grove development on Perkins Road. When complete, the traditional neighborhood development will feature a commercial center called The Village at Willow Grove, which will include the restaurant. Willow Grove developer Richard Carmouche is also a partner in the new Bistro Byronz location. It will be slightly bigger than the Government Street restaurant, but with a similar design and atmosphere, Alton says. She says the owners had been looking at options for an additional Baton Rouge location for the last half-decade. The new Bistro Byronz has the right location and a prime partnership, she says, and is in "the right area to get us to the other side of town and reach some customers...

Mediterranean grill, Middle Eastern market and hookah bar to open on Siegen

The Siegen Village shopping center space that for years was home to the kitsch-classic Pancho's Mexican Buffet is the site of a new Mediterranean grill that, eventually, will expand to include a Middle Eastern market and a patio hookah bar. Zoroona, which is Arabic for "come visit us," is scheduled to open next week in the 6,400-square-foot space at 6900 Siegen Lane, featuring a wider array of Mediterranean cuisines than many of the predominantly Lebanese restaurants and cafés in the area, says owner Bill Qasem, who has worked in restaurant management for years but never owned his own establishment until now. "We are mostly Greek and Lebanese but will also have food from Cyprus and a little more variety than you are accustomed to seeing around here," he says. Qasem chose the shopping center for his new venture because of the high traffic count and local ethnic population, and also because he knows the restaurant clientele in the area, having run the McAlister's Deli across the street...

Second Fresh Junkie to open by late February

The second Fresh Junkie location planned for downtown is scheduled to open by the end of the month, about three months later than originally scheduled. Owner Pat Fellows—who juggles his restaurant business around a full-time career as a sales rep for Mizuno shoes—says his plans for a fall 2013 opening fell behind due to construction delays. "Then with the holidays and the weather and the fact that January is my biggest month for Mizuno, I decided to wait until February," he says. "We only have about six actual days worth of work left until it's completed, but they have to happen in order." Fellows' second Fresh Junkie will be located at 303 North Blvd.—in the space previously occupied by Capital Creamery—and will feature new menu items as well as standards from the original location in the Main Street Market. The new restaurant, which will feature outdoor seating, will take online orders for pickup or delivery. It will also experiment with some new...

Breakfast and brunch spot coming to former Casa Maria space on College

A New Orleans restaurant owner has signed a three-year lease for the 4,000-square-foot space on College Drive previously occupied by Casa Maria Mexican Grill and Bar and plans to open a New Orleans-style breakfast and brunch cafe in the space in early April. The new eatery will be called Rue Orleans Breakfast and Brunch Café and will feature a Creole-influenced menu that will include standard breakfast fare like pancakes and also more sophisticated brunch items like eggs Benedict. "I'm just trying to bring the flavor of New Orleans to Baton Rouge," says Rue Orleans owner Katrina Wyman, who moved to Baton Rouge after Hurricane Katrina but has continued to operate a small diner in Gretna, on New Orleans' West Bank. Wyman says she chose the College Drive location, which is in a strip shopping center anchored by Hobby Lobby, because of its proximity to LSU, Interstate 10 and many residential neighborhoods. "It's a great area and one thing we found is that there is a real demand for...

'Business Report': The story behind the breakup of one of B.R.'s most successful restaurant partnerships

When Walk-On's Bistreaux & Bar celebrated its 10th anniversary last September, few suspected its co-founders and longtime partners—Brandon Landry and Jack Warner—were on the verge of splitting up. After all, Landry and Warner were a team, and the Landry-Warner narrative is central to the whole Walk-On's brand: Two improbable hoopsters walk on to the LSU basketball team in the mid-1990s, spend the better part of the season on the bench, become fast friends, hatch the Walk-On's idea, and grow it into Last In Concepts, a multiconcept restaurant company with 12 locations and $27 million in revenue. As Stephanie Riegel writes in a new Business Report feature on the restaurateurs' split, the idea of Walk-On's without the two walk-ons was, well, almost inconceivable—and certainly not on the public radar when the restaurant proudly marked a decade in existence. In fact, though, by September Landry and Warner were well on their way to parting ways. Separation talks...